23 April 2023
(An aside – I have let my writing lapse due to other projects in the last 6 months. And that is a shame, because writing is the best way to cement your learning, to tease out your thinking, and to kickstart engagement with others. I see people that set goals to write 1000 words a day. A high bar but a good one.)
We just are wrapping up a remodelling project. Top of mind this week is all the smart tech in the home and the attention they demand. Every appliance and device maker has the central idea that their device is the most important device ever, and that you should dedicate your day to admiring it and servicing it.
Almost all the manufacturers recognize that the phone is a key part of everyone’s life, so they all build their own apps for their devices. They don’t embrace Homekit or other standards, because they want to own the relationship with the consumer. So you get a flotilla of apps, each with their own UX and object model and interaction style and notification control. Some are beyond goofy. I have a whole page of them on my phone now.
I don’t think any of us really want a refrigerator app and a stovetop app and a icemaker app and a thermostat app (three in my house because we have Trane and Honeywell thermostats and a minisplit!) We really want a home app and everything to click into it, and a common way to control notifications, to group things, to automate, etc. I’m a nerd so I of course install all the apps, but the regular humans in my household want nothing to do with this.
All these separate apps do not build the brand loyalty that the manufacturers want – every time I have to run the Honeywell app, it is time lost, and it just reminds me what jerks the Honeywell product managers are and how little they think of me.
A lot of this mess is because there is no established practice of system architecture in the home. We have great architects who think thru the physical design of the house and the mechanical systems. But I am not seeing the same leadership in digital and electrical infrastructure in the home. We have a jumble of security, audio, cat6, low voltage, and other wiring. A jumble of wireless protocols for data, for proprietary security and control systems. A jumble of apps, jumble of logins and accounts and cloud services There is no design here. The architects and contractors leave it up to subcontractors who just jam stuff in. It is all a little embarrassing.